On 18 September, representatives from 22 State Parties to the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (RCA) met virtually to deliver and receive reports on both recent and past achievements realized through the framework of the Agreement, and to build consensus around regional priorities and objectives for the coming years.
“At present, our global community is facing unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dazhu Yang, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, in his opening remarks to the meeting. “In such a difficult situation, I am pleased to note that the RCA has shown its solidarity, proactiveness, creativity and innovation in response to the crisis.”
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a great impact on the timely delivery of RCA activities, we have developed and applied alternatives, such as virtual capacity building and e-learning, to meet the expectations established by our work plan,” said Pill Hwan Park, Director of the RCA Regional Office, who described the innovative measures taken to ensure the ongoing implementation of the regional programme in his opening remarks.
Programme Cycle Preparations
Many of the 110 national representatives, counterparts and coordinators provided updates following the recent conclusion of the 42nd Meeting of National RCA Representatives, held online in April 2020.
Among the main outcomes of that meeting was the prioritization and selection of project designs for submission to the IAEA Board of Governors.
Following a report delivered by counterparts working at the RCA Regional Office-located in Daejeon, South Korea-the attending representatives discussed the RCA’s medium-term strategy and the finalization of the regional RCA programme framework from 2024 to 2029.
Delegates also discussed the conclusions of the first of several planned socio-economic assessments of RCA projects.
Using mutation breeding projects to help pilot the approach, the impact assessments are designed to identify value added beyond the primary research undertaken by individual countries.
“The impact assessment found that the RCA has supported a significant body of mutation breeding research, including over 7,300 promising breeding lines with superior quality traits to previous crops, and 254 mutant varieties of crops certified and officially released,” said Sinh Van Hoang, IAEA Programme Management Officer. “The key impacts of this research include increased food production, enhanced environmental protection, strengthened regional capacity and capabilities and growing competitiveness in international markets.”
In the last 48 years, the Agreement has contributed to the development of technical and human resource capacities in the region through more than 150 TC projects-the impact assessments will clarify how and to what extent those projects, broken down according to thematic area, have shaped and contributed positively to the rising quality of life in the region.
RCA is an intergovernmental agreement among the IAEA Member States located in South, Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific and the Far East.
Established in 1972, the RCA was organized to promote, coordinate and implement cooperative research, development and training projects to support the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology amongst the parties to the RCA.
At present, there are 22 State Parties to the RCA: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.